It was Monday. The sun shone brightly on the campus podium. Everyone could sense the hustle and bustle around the canteen. It was located on one of the corners of the podium. The other corner paved the way towards the two wings of our college. The north and the south wings, at the center of the podium stood a long staircase. It indicated to the two classrooms for section A on the left and section B on the right respectively. Rest all other sections students had to sit in the north wing where their seniors also studied. I was lucky I was in section A. The word ragging was enough to haunt me that time. It was the very first time that I was studying at a college which was out of my home city.
It was the month of August, the first week of it, to be more precise. I was sitting quietly in the second row. After thinking about it meticulously, I decided to join the first benchers' gang! Just one seat at the right sat a girl. She wore a nicely tucked white shirt. Her hair was nicely tied at the back with a pretty butterfly clip. There was a blend of shyness and boldness imbibed in her. The professor arrived at sharp 9:15. Every one dragged themselves towards the seats wherever they found. He was short in height, medium built man. He donned a French beard with a look that of a sly in his eyes. Adjusting the microphone, he was ready to address the class.
"Good morning friends" a voice echoed inside the four walls. I could sense the echo to reach out to ones not give a damn to any word spoken by him. Without bothering about the look on the students faces, he continued his speech. "Today, I am going to assess the Presentation skills of each of you. So, may I request all of you to sit in your respective groups?" Request my foot! He is ordering us. I was in a dilemma as I was not prepared for the presentation. I decided to stay mum. The class echoed with sounds as a result of shuffling of the seating arrangement. I strode towards the top. Luckily I was able to grab a seat in the topmost right corner. Everyone was ready with their presentations. Even my group was ready, but without me. The professor decided a new way to put salt on our already aching injuries. He decided to call any group by random.
I was least bothered as I was not a part of the participation. Suddenly the room was filled with silence. "Group number 7" came a voice from behind. He was seated just three seats next to me.
It is my group! From outside I was shocked. But from inside I was thanking god for making me stay out of all this. Presenting first in the class is a nervous affair for all. To stay calm, I rested my head on the table. The presentation thing always seemed useless to me. It was nothing but a nice way for teachers to scold their students. Time went by and after three groups had presented, I stood up. To my surprise, she was seated next to me staring. "Hi!" I was trying to show hard that I was awake. "Hi!" she responded meekly. I knew my efforts were useless. Ignoring her I concentrated on the group which was presenting. "Do you have the case study for this presentation?" she asked me nervously. I started fiddling with my notebook in order to find it. "Ah! Here it is." I said handing it to her.
I was just explaining the case to her only when the time was up. Everyone was packing their bags to head towards canteen for lunch. We usually got around 45 minutes for lunch. I used to avoid lunch in the so called mess which I considered as a MESS. Literally, how could these students eat in such a place? Brushing aside the thoughts, I flew down just to find a place for me to relax in these 45 minutes. I was just packing my bag that I saw her standing still like a statue up there. She looked confused. I sprung up again towards her. "Come, let's go for lunch." I said without hesitation. I was not sure that time about my actions, but I followed my heart. "Okay!" She said with a pause. It was obvious as it was her first day and somebody offered to have lunch with her. Any girl would shy away from such a guy. But I didn't let my fear come in between. Secretly, I was happy from inside to have a partner so early in college, that too a girl! The jealousy of other guys was obvious after that.
It was deciphered by me that she was not aware about anything in college. At the time of fee payment also, she didn't visited the campus. I made arrangements for finishing her formalities per day basis. First day we completed all the hostel formalities. Second day was fixed for registration formalities and so on. The days passed on very well. We studied together, sat together in class. We had lunch together. If sometimes I was not available, she used to message me for lunch. I felt like I was in heaven. The exams were around the corner. It was first semester. The marks were to be awarded by grade point system. It was alien concept for me. Since school days I studied in the percentage system. I had no option but to study harder.
The phase of the trauma also went well. We had a party on the last exam's day. It was already late so I decided to stay in my friend's room at the hostel that night. While having a discussion with my friend, I was distracted by the sound of my mobile ringing. I fished it out from my pocket. I was shocked to see her name flashing on the screen. I answered the call hysterically. She offered me to have a walk with her. Walk! At this time of night, what is she up to? I jumped out of my bed and got ready. we were supposed to meet after fifteen minutes. My friend asked me to finish this for all. He wanted me to propose to her. "It's your golden chance man! Don't let this opportunity go." Somewhere I also wanted to finish this. I was tired of running aimlessly after her.
After fifteen minutes we were strolling in the campus area. It was filled with aching silence that night. Is it an indication from god to go ahead? We just walked around for a while. She was quiet, so was I. We stayed together entire day, so it was quite evident that we didn't have anything to discuss at that time. After a while she broke the silence. "You know people are saying many things nowadays." She said emphasizing mainly on the last word. I didn't interpret her. "People's work is to utter something every now and then. If you do something good they won't stop. If you do something bad, then also they won't stop. And if you don't do anything at all, they won't stop either", I said with a pause. "We are a couple!" she blurted out this time. I told her to ignore the remarks made by them. I was feeling dejected at that point of time. She doesn't love me!
"We are together for so long. I mean it's nothing that we do in each other's absence." she continued. I was getting motivated by her words. It is indescribable in words. Listening to her, we were walking with her one arm wrapped around my neck from the side. "I mean you are a very good person, an angel soul. I like you." Those words were enough for me. I was in no mood to listen to her further. I stopped. Turning towards her, I looked straight in her eyes, "NEHA, I LOVE YOU". I was unaware about what I have said a few seconds before. Like always, I followed my heart. She looked at me with her eyes still. Suddenly she looked down. I realized my deed. "I mean, I also like you." I said with a shiver. I love you, damn. Say yes please!
I tried to hide my anxiety hard but all in vain. She was constantly looking down. I gathered some courage. "Hey come on, can't we just talk about ourselves?"I tried to change the topic. Seeing her motionless for few minutes, I was becoming impatient now. "Sorry Neha! Forget about it okay please!" I tried every damn thing to make her comfortable. After ten minutes of prodding, she looked up at me. I was so much relaxed but still I was trying to make her comfortable. "Stupid at least if you don't know how to propose, learn it!" I realized later what she said. I grabbed her closer. Our lips locked in a passionate kiss. It is still the most memorable encounter in my life.
After the third semester, I heard some rumors that some of my classmates were trying to defame me. I was not that bothered. I ignored the rumors till after some time it started affecting my relationship with her. The clever students succeeded in ruining my reputation in front of her. Actually they took advantage of my so popular helping nature. We were together for about a year before calling it off. I still miss those unforgettable memories of her with me. Today maybe she got married or not, I don't know. I am still waiting for the moment to tell her that I was not like the one showed to her.